For our first STI Saturday, it’s only right that our initial topic is one that some people may, or may not be all too familiar with, it’s the most common STI among younger people. It’s the one… the only… Chlamydia! Below you will find out what it is, how common it is, what asymptomatic means, what happens if you test positive, common symptoms and how often you need to be screened. Enjoy.
To start you might be thinking “what on earth is Chlamydia?” Well, it’s simply a bacterial infection passed on through unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex… nice.
How common is it? well, during the National Chlamydia Screening Program it was found that 3 in every 100 young people aged 15 to 24 had Chlamydia. In 2015, 200,228 cases were reported to Public Health England! Since 2014, the number of Chlamydia cases has actually dropped by 3%, but there is still a long way to go…
The scary thing about Chlamydia is that is doesn’t always give you symptoms to let you know something is wrong! This is called being asymptomatic.
You could be sleeping with that cute guy/girl from your favorite social media app without knowing you or them has an infection, not so cute now, is it? But in all seriousness, when you do get yourself down to a clinic for a sexual health screen, and find out you have an infection, how guilty are you going to feel, knowing that you’ve given it to other people? OR how annoyed that you’ve knowingly put yourself at risk. If two people who have had sex didn’t wear condoms, then it is BOTH their fault an infection has been spread, no matter who had it first. Sorry, but it’s true.
So, you’ve been a bit silly and not worn condoms with any of your sexual partners, and now you’ve got that niggling feeling in the back of your mind, so you’re going to turn over a new leaf and be responsible and get tested, good for you! But, oh crap. You’ve only gone and tested positive! And so you might be thinking “What now?! How can I make this go away?!” Well you’re in luck, Chlamydia is actually pretty easy to treat.
Different healthcare providers may have slightly different treatments, but it will always be in tablet form and easy to take (not more than twice daily). It is very important to listen to the instructions the sexual health nurse gives you with regards to your treatment, because it will mean that you have to abstain from all types of sex. Abstain = do not have sex! and all the different types of sex are: vaginal sex (often referred to as regular sex for women), oral sex (anything involving your mouth) and anal sex (anything involving your butt). You might have to abstain for up to 7 days!
It is also important your sexual partner(s) get tested and get treated too, if you have tested positive, your partner can receive treatment before any test results are back. A TOC (Test of Cure) is vital though…
A TOC is the only way to know if the treatment has worked or not, so once treatment is done, yep, you guessed it, you’re going to have to go on up to your local clinic for another round of screening. If you’ve followed the instructions around treatment, it is more than 95% effective. Panic over. At least once these results are back and clear, you can go straight to having as much sex as you want. But please, ffs, wear a condom!
OK, so now, remember when I said that most people don’t have symptoms of Chlamydia? Well, some people do. And they can be quite uncomfortable. If you notice any of the following changes or any of these symptoms, stop having sex and go to your local clinic.
For women, increased vaginal discharge, pain when having sex, bleeding after sex, bleeding between periods, pain when having a wee, lower abdominal pain. Are all warning signs of Chlamydia.
In men, discharge coming from the tip of the penis, and pain when urinating. These symptoms are usually so mild, that men often don’t realise there’s an underlying issue.
I just need to add that if you receive anal sex, then it is most likely that Chlamydia will be asymptomatic, but if you get any feeling of discomfort, or any discharge, then go to your nearest STI clinic.
You might also have chlamydia in the throat if you give oral sex to a man, but again, this is usually asymptomatic. The nurse or healthcare assistant will ask what type of sex you are having in order to take the appropriate swabs. so pleaseee be honest.
PLEASE NOTE, that it takes 2 WEEKS for Chlamydia to become detectable within your body. If you’re panicking because you’ve read this and realised you have had sex without a condom a couple of days ago, there is nothing you can do until 2 weeks afterwards (unless your partner has tested positive like I said before). Try not to worry too much though. Just make sure you stay protected and get yourself screened no sooner than two weeks afterwards.
IF left untreated, it can spread to the womb, ovaries and Fallopian tubes and can cause women to have PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) which can make it difficult to get pregnant or make you infertile, suffer with chronic pelvic pain and can also increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy. More on PID here.
In men, it can spread to the testicles, and the tubes that carry sperm from the testicle, causing inflammation, which when left untreated can also affect fertility.
A final thought…
We all need to keep each other safe and wear protection, get screened for infections every year and after every new partner, we ALSO need to stop the stigma about going out of our way to get tested. Be responsible for your own health, people! go on, empower yourself, heck, empower your friends and make them get screened with you. STIs suck, and it’s much better knowing you don’t have one than hoping for the best. All STI clinics run under complete confidentiality – in other words, no one will know that you’ve done the right thing and got tested, so you really are running out of excuses!
To find your nearest clinic, the FPA (Family Planning Association) has a great website where you can literally pop in your postcode and it magically creates a list of all your nearest clinics and what they offer, for STIs you need to make sure it includes GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) in their services.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I truly hope that is has been of some help to those of you reading. If you have any further questions, or think there is something missing, then do not hesitate to contact us. You can email the team at: SexEd_@outlook.com
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